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Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Monday, 12 July 2010 17:20 UK

Bradley Wiggins Tour de France hopes suffer setback

Tour de France 2010
Start: 3 July, Rotterdam Finish: 25 July, Paris
Coverage: Listen to the final hour of every stage on the BBC Sport website (UK only), with selected stages on BBC 5 live sports extra; Watch live on Eurosport and ITV4; Live text commentary each day on BBC Sport website

Bradley Wiggins found Sunday's category one climb up to Avoriaz tough
Wiggins found Sunday's category one climb up to Avoriaz tough

Bradley Wiggins' hopes of winning the Tour de France took another setback on Monday's rest day when his fellow Team Sky rider Simon Gerrans pulled out.

Australian Gerrans, who had been picked to help Wiggins in the mountain stages, broke his arm in a crash on Sunday.

Wiggins struggled on the category one climb to Avoriaz, finishing one minute 45 seconds behind winner Andy Schleck.

The Brit is 14th, 2'45" behind leader Cadel Evans and more than one minute behind Schleck and Alberto Contador.

Gerrans confirmed on Twitter: "Just had a scan that confirmed what I feared, I broke my arm when I crashed after 7km of yesterday's stage. TdF is finished."

Wiggins, a three-time Olympic track champion who finished fourth in only his second Tour last year, was dropped towards the end of Sunday's eighth stage.

He said afterwards that he had felt good up to the final climb but admitted he could not hold on at the end and was not quite good enough.

"There came a point when I just couldn't afford to keep hanging on to that group through just completely exploding," said the 30-year-old.

"I tried to get to 4km to go and then planned to ride at my own tempo and limit my losses."


Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly believes Wiggins has left himself a slim chance of even finishing on the podium, never mind winning the race.

Kelly who finished fourth in the 1985 Tour de France and is working as a television pundit on the current race, said: "It's not looking good, losing time - I would be concerned.

"Sometimes in the first stage in the mountains it's difficult to get into your rhythm.

"That's a possibility, but it was not a nice situation to be in for Wiggins. He could not hang on and when you can't hang on any longer the next thing is to limit the damage."

The riders face a second day in the Alpine mountains on Tuesday, the 204.5km ninth stage from Morzine-Avoriaz to Saint-Jaune-de-Maurienne which features the legendary 25km hors category climb up Col de la Madeleine.

With the contenders for overall victory coming to the fore on Sunday's first mountainous stage, defending champion and race favourite Contador has earmarked Andy Schleck as his main threat for the yellow jersey.

Schleck won stage eight after attacking Contador and Cadel Evans, who went on to become the new race leader, in the final kilometre of the climb up to Avoriaz.

"Last year he [Schleck] gave me a few problems and this year he will be my biggest rival," said Spanish rider Contador, who also won the race in 2007.

Lance was very unlucky on Sunday - I don't enjoy watching great riders like him suffer. But my admiration is still the same, maybe my admiration is even stronger now

Alberto Contador

"When the attacks started [on the last climb on Sunday] it wasn't easy for me to counter, then Schleck attacked. I tried to follow him but when I saw they'd taken a small lead I decided to sit up.

"In the end we lost a few seconds but overall it was a good result."

Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong took on a training ride as the peloton enjoyed a rest day on Monday, less than 24 hours after the seven-time Tour de France winner admitted defeat in his attempts to win for an eighth time.

Two falls and a sluggish finish saw Armstrong end Sunday's eighth stage 13 minutes and 26 seconds off the leader.

But having vowed to "hang in there" the Texan wrote on Twitter: "Good ride on the rest day. The Haute Savoie is gorgeous. Went around and climbed my old friend Joux Plane - hard one."

Armstrong is expected to start Tuesday's ninth stage to St Jean de Maurienne, with the intimidating 25-km climb to the Col de la Madeleine on the menu.

Nevertheless, the American's biggest rival Alberto Contador has greeted Armstrong's demise as a contender for the 2010 Tour with sorrow.

"On Sunday, Lance was very unlucky - I don't enjoy watching great riders like him suffer," said the Spaniard. "But my admiration is still the same, maybe my admiration is even stronger now."

Armstrong and Contador endured a fractious relationship during the 2009 Tour, as team-mates in the American's comeback season at Astana.

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see also
Tour de France Q&A
12 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Armstrong's Tour hopes disappear
11 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Tour de France 2010 guide
02 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Tour de France day by day
04 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Wiggins eyes Tour de France glory
01 Jul 10 |  Cycling

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